Bill Text: CA AB1893 | 2023-2024 | Regular Session | Introduced

NOTE: There are more recent revisions of this legislation. Read Latest Draft
Bill Title: Housing Accountability Act: housing disapprovals: required local findings.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 1-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2024-04-18 - From committee chair, with author's amendments: Amend, and re-refer to Com. on L. GOV. Read second time and amended. [AB1893 Detail]

Download: California-2023-AB1893-Introduced.html


CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2023–2024 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 1893


Introduced by Assembly Member Wicks

January 23, 2024


An act to amend Section 65589.5 of the Government Code, relating to land use.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 1893, as introduced, Wicks. Housing Accountability Act: housing disapprovals: required local findings.
The Planning and Zoning Law requires a city or county to adopt a general plan for land use development within its boundaries that includes, among other things, a housing element. Existing law, commonly referred to as the Housing Element Law, prescribes requirements for a city’s or county’s preparation of, and compliance with, its housing element, and requires the Department of Housing and Community Development to review and determine whether the housing element substantially complies with the Housing Element Law, as specified.
Existing law, the Housing Accountability Act, among other things, prohibits a local agency from disapproving, or conditioning approval in a manner that renders infeasible, a housing development project for very low, low-, or moderate-income households unless the local agency makes written findings as to one of certain sets of conditions, as specified. One set of conditions is that (A) the jurisdiction has adopted a housing element that is in substantial compliance with the Housing Element Law, and (B) the housing development project is inconsistent with both the jurisdiction’s zoning ordinance and general plan land use designation as specified in any element of the general plan as it existed on the date the application was deemed complete.
This bill would authorize a local agency to disapprove or conditionally approve a housing development project for very low, low-, or moderate-income households if it makes a finding that (A) the local agency has failed to adopt a revised housing element that is in substantial compliance with the Housing Element Law, (B) the housing development project is proposed for a site zoned for residential use or residential mixed-use development, and (C) the housing development project exceeds specified density requirements, has a density that is less than the minimum allowed by state or local law, or does not meet objective standards quantifiable, written development standards, as specified.
Existing law defines “housing for very low, low-, or moderate-income households” for purposes of the Housing Accountability Act to mean at least 20% of the total units shall be sold or rented to lower income households or 100% of the units are sold or rented to persons and families of moderate income.
This bill would revise that definition to mean at least 10% of the total units shall be sold or rented to lower income households or 100% of the units are sold or rented to persons and families of moderate income.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: NO   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Section 65589.5 of the Government Code is amended to read:

65589.5.
 (a) (1) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(A) The lack of housing, including emergency shelters, is a critical problem that threatens the economic, environmental, and social quality of life in California.
(B) California housing has become the most expensive in the nation. The excessive cost of the state’s housing supply is partially caused by activities and policies of many local governments that limit the approval of housing, increase the cost of land for housing, and require that high fees and exactions be paid by producers of housing.
(C) Among the consequences of those actions are discrimination against low-income and minority households, lack of housing to support employment growth, imbalance in jobs and housing, reduced mobility, urban sprawl, excessive commuting, and air quality deterioration.
(D) Many local governments do not give adequate attention to the economic, environmental, and social costs of decisions that result in disapproval of housing development projects, reduction in density of housing projects, and excessive standards for housing development projects.
(2) In enacting the amendments made to this section by the act adding this paragraph, the Legislature further finds and declares the following:
(A) California has a housing supply and affordability crisis of historic proportions. The consequences of failing to effectively and aggressively confront this crisis are hurting millions of Californians, robbing future generations of the chance to call California home, stifling economic opportunities for workers and businesses, worsening poverty and homelessness, and undermining the state’s environmental and climate objectives.
(B) While the causes of this crisis are multiple and complex, the absence of meaningful and effective policy reforms to significantly enhance the approval and supply of housing affordable to Californians of all income levels is a key factor.
(C) The crisis has grown so acute in California that supply, demand, and affordability fundamentals are characterized in the negative: underserved demands, constrained supply, and protracted unaffordability.
(D) According to reports and data, California has accumulated an unmet housing backlog of nearly 2,000,000 units and must provide for at least 180,000 new units annually to keep pace with growth through 2025.
(E) California’s overall home ownership rate is at its lowest level since the 1940s. The state ranks 49th out of the 50 states in home ownership rates as well as in the supply of housing per capita. Only one-half of California’s households are able to afford the cost of housing in their local regions.
(F) Lack of supply and rising costs are compounding inequality and limiting advancement opportunities for many Californians.
(G) The majority of California renters, more than 3,000,000 households, pay more than 30 percent of their income toward rent and nearly one-third, more than 1,500,000 households, pay more than 50 percent of their income toward rent.
(H) When Californians have access to safe and affordable housing, they have more money for food and health care; they are less likely to become homeless and in need of government-subsidized services; their children do better in school; and businesses have an easier time recruiting and retaining employees.
(I) An additional consequence of the state’s cumulative housing shortage is a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions caused by the displacement and redirection of populations to states with greater housing opportunities, particularly working- and middle-class households. California’s cumulative housing shortfall therefore has not only national but international environmental consequences.
(J) California’s housing picture has reached a crisis of historic proportions despite the fact that, for decades, the Legislature has enacted numerous statutes intended to significantly increase the approval, development, and affordability of housing for all income levels, including this section.
(K) The Legislature’s intent in enacting this section in 1982 and in expanding its provisions since then was to significantly increase the approval and construction of new housing for all economic segments of California’s communities by meaningfully and effectively curbing the capability of local governments to deny, reduce the density for, or render infeasible housing development projects and emergency shelters. That intent has not been fulfilled.
(L) It is the policy of the state that this section be interpreted and implemented in a manner to afford the fullest possible weight to the interest of, and the approval and provision of, housing.
(3) It is the intent of the Legislature that the conditions that would have a specific, adverse impact upon the public health and safety, as described in paragraph (2) of subdivision (d) and paragraph (1) of subdivision (j), arise infrequently.
(b) It is the policy of the state that a local government not reject or make infeasible housing development projects, including emergency shelters, that contribute to meeting the need determined pursuant to this article without a thorough analysis of the economic, social, and environmental effects of the action and without complying with subdivision (d).
(c) The Legislature also recognizes that premature and unnecessary development of agricultural lands for urban uses continues to have adverse effects on the availability of those lands for food and fiber production and on the economy of the state. Furthermore, it is the policy of the state that development should be guided away from prime agricultural lands; therefore, in implementing this section, local jurisdictions should encourage, to the maximum extent practicable, in filling existing urban areas.
(d) A local agency shall not disapprove a housing development project, including farmworker housing as defined in subdivision (h) of Section 50199.7 of the Health and Safety Code, for very low, low-, or moderate-income households, or an emergency shelter, or condition approval in a manner that renders the housing development project infeasible for development for the use of very low, low-, or moderate-income households, or an emergency shelter, including through the use of design review standards, unless it makes written findings, based upon a preponderance of the evidence in the record, as to one of the following:
(1) The jurisdiction has adopted a housing element pursuant to this article that has been revised in accordance with Section 65588, is in substantial compliance with this article, and the jurisdiction has met or exceeded its share of the regional housing need allocation pursuant to Section 65584 for the planning period for the income category proposed for the housing development project, provided that any disapproval or conditional approval shall not be based on any of the reasons prohibited by Section 65008. If the housing development project includes a mix of income categories, and the jurisdiction has not met or exceeded its share of the regional housing need for one or more of those categories, then this paragraph shall not be used to disapprove or conditionally approve the housing development project. The share of the regional housing need met by the jurisdiction shall be calculated consistently with the forms and definitions that may be adopted by the Department of Housing and Community Development pursuant to Section 65400. In the case of an emergency shelter, the jurisdiction shall have met or exceeded the need for emergency shelter, as identified pursuant to paragraph (7) of subdivision (a) of Section 65583. Any disapproval or conditional approval pursuant to this paragraph shall be in accordance with applicable law, rule, or standards.
(2) The housing development project or emergency shelter as proposed would have a specific, adverse impact upon the public health or safety, and there is no feasible method to satisfactorily mitigate or avoid the specific, adverse impact without rendering the development unaffordable to low- and moderate-income households or rendering the development of the emergency shelter financially infeasible. As used in this paragraph, a “specific, adverse impact” means a significant, quantifiable, direct, and unavoidable impact, based on objective, identified written public health or safety standards, policies, or conditions as they existed on the date the application was deemed complete. The following shall not constitute a specific, adverse impact upon the public health or safety:
(A) Inconsistency with the zoning ordinance or general plan land use designation.
(B) The eligibility to claim a welfare exemption under subdivision (g) of Section 214 of the Revenue and Taxation Code.
(3) The denial of the housing development project or imposition of conditions is required in order to comply with specific state or federal law, and there is no feasible method to comply without rendering the development unaffordable to low- and moderate-income households or rendering the development of the emergency shelter financially infeasible.
(4) The housing development project or emergency shelter is proposed on land zoned for agriculture or resource preservation that is surrounded on at least two sides by land being used for agricultural or resource preservation purposes, or which does not have adequate water or wastewater facilities to serve the project.
(5) The housing development project or emergency shelter is inconsistent with both the jurisdiction’s zoning ordinance and general plan land use designation as specified in any element of the general plan as it existed on the date the application was deemed complete, and the jurisdiction has adopted a revised housing element in accordance with Section 65588 that is in substantial compliance with this article. For purposes of this section, a change to the zoning ordinance or general plan land use designation subsequent to the date the application was deemed complete shall not constitute a valid basis to disapprove or condition approval of the housing development project or emergency shelter.
(A) This paragraph cannot be utilized to disapprove or conditionally approve a housing development project if the housing development project is proposed on a site that is identified as suitable or available for very low, low-, or moderate-income households in the jurisdiction’s housing element, and consistent with the density specified in the housing element, even though it is inconsistent with both the jurisdiction’s zoning ordinance and general plan land use designation.
(B) If the local agency has failed to identify in the inventory of land in its housing element sites that can be developed for housing within the planning period and are sufficient to provide for the jurisdiction’s share of the regional housing need for all income levels pursuant to Section 65584, then this paragraph shall not be utilized to disapprove or conditionally approve a housing development project proposed for a site designated in any element of the general plan for residential uses or designated in any element of the general plan for commercial uses if residential uses are permitted or conditionally permitted within commercial designations. In any action in court, the burden of proof shall be on the local agency to show that its housing element does identify adequate sites with appropriate zoning and development standards and with services and facilities to accommodate the local agency’s share of the regional housing need for the very low, low-, and moderate-income categories.
(C) If the local agency has failed to identify a zone or zones where emergency shelters are allowed as a permitted use without a conditional use or other discretionary permit, has failed to demonstrate that the identified zone or zones include sufficient capacity to accommodate the need for emergency shelter identified in paragraph (7) of subdivision (a) of Section 65583, or has failed to demonstrate that the identified zone or zones can accommodate at least one emergency shelter, as required by paragraph (4) of subdivision (a) of Section 65583, then this paragraph shall not be utilized to disapprove or conditionally approve an emergency shelter proposed for a site designated in any element of the general plan for industrial, commercial, or multifamily residential uses. In any action in court, the burden of proof shall be on the local agency to show that its housing element does satisfy the requirements of paragraph (4) of subdivision (a) of Section 65583.
(6) The local agency has failed to adopt a revised housing element in accordance with Section 65588 that is in substantial compliance with this article, as determined by the department, the housing development project is proposed for a site zoned for residential use or residential mixed-use development, and the housing development project satisfies any of the following:
(A) The project has a density that exceeds all of the following:
(i) The maximum allowable density within the general plan land use designation for the site.
(ii) The maximum density deemed appropriate to accommodate housing for that jurisdiction as specified in subparagraph (B) of paragraph (3) of subdivision (c) of Section 65583.2.
(iii) Twice the density allowed by local law.
(iv) Twice the density allowed by state law.
(B) The project has a density that is less than the minimum allowed by local or state law, whichever is greater.
(C) The project does not meet objective, quantifiable, written development standards to accommodate development at the greatest density permitted for the site under this paragraph.
(e) Nothing in this section shall be construed to relieve the local agency from complying with the congestion management program required by Chapter 2.6 (commencing with Section 65088) of Division 1 of Title 7 or the California Coastal Act of 1976 (Division 20 (commencing with Section 30000) of the Public Resources Code). Neither shall anything in this section be construed to relieve the local agency from making one or more of the findings required pursuant to Section 21081 of the Public Resources Code or otherwise complying with the California Environmental Quality Act (Division 13 (commencing with Section 21000) of the Public Resources Code).
(f) (1) Except as provided in paragraph (6) of subdivision (d) and subdivision (o), nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit a local agency from requiring the housing development project to comply with objective, quantifiable, written development standards, conditions, and policies appropriate to, and consistent with, meeting the jurisdiction’s share of the regional housing need pursuant to Section 65584. However, the development standards, conditions, and policies shall be applied to facilitate and accommodate development at the density permitted on the site and proposed by the development.
(2) Except as provided in subdivision (o), nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit a local agency from requiring an emergency shelter project to comply with objective, quantifiable, written development standards, conditions, and policies that are consistent with paragraph (4) of subdivision (a) of Section 65583 and appropriate to, and consistent with, meeting the jurisdiction’s need for emergency shelter, as identified pursuant to paragraph (7) of subdivision (a) of Section 65583. However, the development standards, conditions, and policies shall be applied by the local agency to facilitate and accommodate the development of the emergency shelter project.
(3) Except as provided in subdivision (o), nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit a local agency from imposing fees and other exactions otherwise authorized by law that are essential to provide necessary public services and facilities to the housing development project or emergency shelter.
(4) For purposes of this section, a housing development project or emergency shelter shall be deemed consistent, compliant, and in conformity with an applicable plan, program, policy, ordinance, standard, requirement, or other similar provision if there is substantial evidence that would allow a reasonable person to conclude that the housing development project or emergency shelter is consistent, compliant, or in conformity.
(g) This section shall be applicable to charter cities because the Legislature finds that the lack of housing, including emergency shelter, is a critical statewide problem.
(h) The following definitions apply for the purposes of this section:
(1) “Feasible” means capable of being accomplished in a successful manner within a reasonable period of time, taking into account economic, environmental, social, and technological factors.
(2) “Housing development project” means a use consisting of any of the following:
(A) Residential units only.
(B) Mixed-use developments consisting of residential and nonresidential uses with at least two-thirds of the square footage designated for residential use.
(C) Transitional housing or supportive housing.
(3) “Housing for very low, low-, or moderate-income households” means that either (A) at least 20 10 percent of the total units shall be sold or rented to lower income households, as defined in Section 50079.5 of the Health and Safety Code, or (B) 100 percent of the units shall be sold or rented to persons and families of moderate income as defined in Section 50093 of the Health and Safety Code, or persons and families of middle income, as defined in Section 65008 of this code. Housing units targeted for lower income households shall be made available at a monthly housing cost that does not exceed 30 percent of 60 percent of area median income with adjustments for household size made in accordance with the adjustment factors on which the lower income eligibility limits are based. Housing units targeted for persons and families of moderate income shall be made available at a monthly housing cost that does not exceed 30 percent of 100 percent of area median income with adjustments for household size made in accordance with the adjustment factors on which the moderate-income eligibility limits are based.
(4) “Area median income” means area median income as periodically established by the Department of Housing and Community Development pursuant to Section 50093 of the Health and Safety Code. The developer shall provide sufficient legal commitments to ensure continued availability of units for very low or low-income households in accordance with the provisions of this subdivision for 30 years.
(5) Notwithstanding any other law, until January 1, 2030, “deemed complete” means that the applicant has submitted a preliminary application pursuant to Section 65941.1 or, if the applicant has not submitted a preliminary application, has submitted a complete application pursuant to Section 65943.
(6) “Disapprove the housing development project” includes any instance in which a local agency does any of the following:
(A) Votes on a proposed housing development project application and the application is disapproved, including any required land use approvals or entitlements necessary for the issuance of a building permit.
(B) Fails to comply with the time periods specified in subdivision (a) of Section 65950. An extension of time pursuant to Article 5 (commencing with Section 65950) shall be deemed to be an extension of time pursuant to this paragraph.
(C) Fails to meet the time limits specified in Section 65913.3.
(D) (i) Fails to make a determination of whether the project is exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (Division 13 (commencing with Section 21000) of the Public Resources Code), or commits an abuse of discretion, as defined in this subparagraph, if all of the following conditions are satisfied:
(I) There is substantial evidence in the record before the local agency that the housing development project is not located in either of the following:
(ia) On a site specified in subparagraphs (A) to (C), inclusive, or subparagraphs (E) to (K), inclusive, of paragraph (6) of subdivision (a) of Section 65913.4.
(ib) Within a very high fire hazard severity zone, as determined by the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection pursuant to Section 51178, or within a high or very high fire hazard severity zone as indicated on maps adopted by the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection pursuant to Section 4202 of the Public Resources Code.
(II) The housing development project is located on a legal parcel or parcels within an urbanized area and meets one or more of the following criteria:
(ia) The housing development project is located within one-half mile walking distance to either a high-quality transit corridor or a major transit stop.
(ib) The housing development project is located in a very low vehicle travel area.
(ic) The housing development project is proximal to six or more amenities pursuant to subclause (IV) of clause (ii) as of the date of submission of the application for the project.
(id) Parcels that are developed with urban uses adjoin at least 75 percent of the perimeter of the project site or at least three sides of a foursided project site. For purposes of this clause, parcels that are only separated by a street or highway shall be considered to be adjoined.
(III) The density of the housing development project meets or exceeds 15 dwelling units per acre.
(IV) Both of the following criteria are met:
(ia) There is substantial evidence in the record before the local agency that the housing development project is eligible for an exemption sought by the applicant.
(ib) If the exemption sought by the applicant is subject to an exception under the Guidelines for Implementation of the California Environmental Quality Act (Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 15000) of Division 6 of Title 14 of the California Code of Regulations), there is substantial evidence in the record before the local agency that the application of that categorical exemption is not barred by one of the exceptions set forth in Section 15300.2 of those guidelines.
(V) (ia) The applicant has given timely written notice to the local agency of the action or inaction that the applicant believes constitutes a failure to make a determination or an abuse of discretion, as defined in this subparagraph, and the local agency did not make a lawful determination within 90 days of the applicant’s written notice. The applicant’s written notice shall contain all of the following:
(Ia) The information specified in paragraphs (1), (2), (5), and (6) of subdivision (a) of Section 15062 of Title 14 of the California Code of Regulations.
(Ib) A citation to the section of Title 14 of the California Code of Regulations or the statute under which the applicant asserts that the project is exempt.
(Ic) A brief statement of reasons supporting the assertion that the project is exempt.
(Id) A copy of the excerpts from the record constituting substantial evidence that the criteria of subclauses (I) to (IV), inclusive, are satisfied.
(ib) Within five working days of receiving the applicant’s written notice required by sub-subclause (ia), the local agency shall file the notice with the county clerk of each county in which the project will be located. The county clerk shall post the notice and make it available for public inspection in the manner set forth in subdivision (c) of Section 21152 of the Public Resources Code. Compliance with this sub-subclause is not a condition that must be satisfied in order to find that the local agency has disapproved the housing development project under this subparagraph.
(ic) The local agency may, by providing a written response to the applicant within 90 additional days of the applicant’s written notice, extend the time period to make a lawful determination by no more than 90 days if the extension is necessary to determine if there is substantial evidence in the record that the housing development project is eligible for the exemption sought by the applicant.
(id) If the local agency has given the applicant written notice of the local agency’s determination that the project is not exempt, the applicant’s notice shall be deemed timely if and only if it is delivered to the local agency within 35 days of the date that the local agency gave the applicant notice of the local agency’s determination.
(ie) If the local agency has not given the applicant the written notice described in sub-subclause (id), the applicant’s notice shall be deemed timely if given after 60 days from the date on which the project application has been received and accepted as complete by the lead agency, or 60 days from the date on which the project application has been determined or deemed to be complete within the meaning of Section 65943, whichever is earlier.
(ii) For purposes of this subparagraph, the following definitions apply:
(I) “Abuse of discretion” means that the conditions set forth in subclauses (I) to (IV), inclusive, of clause (i) are satisfied, but the local agency does not determine that the project is exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (Division 13 (commencing with Section 21000) of the Public Resources Code). This subclause sets forth the exclusive definition of “abuse of discretion” for purposes of this subparagraph.
(II) “High-quality transit corridor” has the same meaning defined in subdivision (b) of Section 21155 of the Public Resources Code.
(III) “Major transit stop” has the same meaning as defined in Section 21064.3 of the Public Resources Code.
(IV) “Proximal” to an amenity means either of the following:
(ia) Within one-half mile of either of the following amenities:
(Ia) A bus station.
(Ib) A ferry terminal.
(ib) Within one mile, or for a parcel in a rural area, as defined in Section 50199.21 of the Health and Safety Code, within two miles, of any of the following amenities:
(Ia) A supermarket or grocery store.
(Ib) A public park.
(Ic) A community center.
(Id) A pharmacy or drugstore.
(Ie) A medical clinic or hospital.
(If) A public library.
(Ig) A school that maintains a kindergarten or any of grades 1 to 12, inclusive.
(V) “Urbanized area” has the same meaning as defined in Section 21071 of the Public Resources Code.
(VI) (ia) “Very low vehicle travel area” means an urbanized area, as designated by the United States Census Bureau, where the existing residential development generates vehicle miles traveled per capita that is below 85 percent of either regional vehicle miles traveled per capita or city vehicle miles traveled per capita.
(ib) For purposes of sub-subclause (ia), “area” may include a travel analysis zone, hexagon, or grid.
(ic) For the purposes of determining “regional vehicle miles traveled per capita” pursuant to sub-subclause (ia), a “region” is the entirety of incorporated and unincorporated areas governed by a multicounty or single-county metropolitan planning organization, or the entirety of the incorporated and unincorporated areas of an individual county that is not part of a metropolitan planning organization.
(iii) This subparagraph shall not be construed to require a local agency to determine that a project is exempt if, on the record before the local agency, the project is not eligible for exemption.
(iv) This subparagraph shall become inoperative on January 1, 2031.
(E) Fails to adopt a negative declaration or addendum for the project, to certify an environmental impact report for the project, or to approve another comparable environmental document, such as a sustainable communities environmental assessment pursuant to Section 21155.2 of the Public Resources Code, as required pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (Division 13 (commencing with Section 21000) of the Public Resources Code), if all of the following conditions are satisfied:
(i) There is substantial evidence in the record before the local agency that the site of the housing development project is not located on either of the following:
(I) On a site specified in subparagraphs (A) to (C), inclusive, or subparagraphs (E) to (K), inclusive, of paragraph (6) of subdivision (a) of Section 65913.4.
(II) Within a very high fire hazard severity zone, as determined by the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection pursuant to Section 51178, or within a high or very high fire hazard severity zone as indicated on maps adopted by the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection pursuant to Section 4202 of the Public Resources Code.
(ii) The housing development project is located on a legal parcel or parcels within an urbanized area and meets one or more of the following criteria:
(I) The housing development project is located within one-half mile walking distance to either a high-quality transit corridor or a major transit stop.
(II) The housing development project is located in a very low vehicle travel area.
(III) The housing development project is proximal to six or more amenities pursuant to subclause (IV) of clause (vii) as of the date of submission of the application for the project.
(IV) Parcels that are developed with urban uses adjoin at least 75 percent of the perimeter of the project site or at least three sides of a foursided project site. For purposes of this clause, parcels that are only separated by a street or highway shall be considered to be adjoined.
(iii) The density of the housing development project meets or exceeds 15 dwelling units per acre.
(iv) There has been prepared a negative declaration, addendum, environmental impact report, or comparable environmental review document that, if duly adopted, approved, or certified by the local agency, would satisfy the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (Division 13 (commencing with Section 21000) of the Public Resources Code) with respect to the project.
(v) The local agency or a body or official to which the agency has delegated authority to adopt, approve, or certify the negative declaration addendum, environmental impact report, or comparable environmental review document has held a meeting at which adoption, approval, or certification of the environmental review document was on the agenda and the environmental review document could have been adopted, approved, or certified, as applicable, but the agency did either of the following:
(I) Committed an abuse of discretion, as defined in this subparagraph.
(II) Failed to decide whether to require further study or to adopt, approve, or certify the environmental document.
(vi) (I) The applicant has given timely written notice to the local agency of the action or inaction that the applicant believes constitutes a failure to decide or an abuse of discretion, and the local agency did not make a lawful determination about whether to adopt, approve, or certify the environmental review document within 90 days of the applicant’s written notice. The applicant’s written notice shall include a copy of those excerpts from the record that constitute substantial evidence that the criteria of clauses (i) to (iv), inclusive, are satisfied.
(II) If the local agency has voted to require further study, rather than adopting, approving, or certifying the negative declaration, addendum, environmental impact report, or comparable environmental review document in the form it was presented for the agency’s consideration, the applicant’s notice shall be deemed timely if and only if it is delivered to the local agency within 35 days of the date that the local agency gave written notice of its decision to the applicant.
(III) If the local agency has not voted to require further study, rather than adopting, approving, or certifying the negative declaration, addendum, environmental impact report, or comparable environmental review document in the form it was presented for the agency’s consideration, the applicant’s notice shall be deemed timely if given after the time period specified in Section 21151.5 of the Public Resources Code or another applicable provision of that code for completing the addendum, negative declaration, environmental impact report, or other comparable environmental review document, as applicable, has passed. If the Public Resources Code does not specifically describe the deadline to complete the applicable environmental document, a 180-day deadline is the applicable time period.
(vii) For purposes of this subparagraph, the following definitions apply:
(I) (ia) “Abuse of discretion” means either of the following:
(Ia) If the local agency fails to adopt a negative declaration, “abuse of discretion” means that the agency, in bad faith or without substantial evidence in the record to support a fair argument that further environmental study is necessary to identify or analyze potentially significant impacts on the physical environment, decided to require further environmental study rather than adopting the negative declaration.
(Ib) If the local agency fails to adopt an addendum for the project, certify an environmental impact report for the project, or approve another comparable environmental document, “abuse of discretion” means that the agency, in bad faith or without substantial evidence in the record that further environmental study is legally required to identify or analyze potentially significant impacts on the physical environment, decided to require further environmental study rather than adopting, approving, or certifying the environmental review document.
(ib) This subclause sets forth the exclusive definition of “abuse of discretion” for purposes of this subparagraph.
(II) “High-quality transit corridor” has the same meaning defined in subdivision (b) of Section 21155 of the Public Resources Code.
(III) “Major transit stop” has the same meaning as defined in Section 21064.3 of the Public Resources Code.
(IV) “Proximal” to an amenity means either of the following:
(ia) Within one-half mile of either of the following amenities:
(Ia) A bus station.
(Ib) A ferry terminal.
(ib) Within one mile, or for a parcel in a rural area, as defined in Section 50199.21 of the Health and Safety Code, within two miles, of any of the following amenities:
(Ia) A supermarket or grocery store.
(Ib) A public park.
(Ic) A community center.
(Id) A pharmacy or drugstore.
(Ie) A medical clinic or hospital.
(If) A public library.
(Ig) A school that maintains a kindergarten or any of grades 1 to 12, inclusive.
(V) “Urbanized area” has the same meaning as defined in Section 21071 of the Public Resources Code.
(VI) (ia) “Very low vehicle travel area” means an urbanized area, as designated by the United States Census Bureau, where the existing residential development generates vehicle miles traveled per capita that is below 85 percent of either regional vehicle miles traveled per capita or city vehicle miles traveled per capita.
(ib) For purposes of sub-subclause (ia), “area” may include a travel analysis zone, hexagon, or grid.
(ic) For the purposes of determining “regional vehicle miles traveled per capita” pursuant to sub-subclause (ia), a “region” is the entirety of incorporated and unincorporated areas governed by a multicounty or single-county metropolitan planning organization, or the entirety of the incorporated and unincorporated areas of an individual county that is not part of a metropolitan planning organization.
(viii) This subparagraph shall become inoperative on January 1, 2031.
(7) (A) For purposes of this section, “lawful determination” means any final decision about whether to approve or disapprove a statutory or categorical exemption or a negative declaration, addendum, environmental impact report, or comparable environmental review document under the California Environmental Quality Act (Division 13 (commencing with Section 21000) of the Public Resources Code) that is not an abuse of discretion, as defined in clause (ii) of subparagraph (D) of paragraph (6) or clause (vii) of subparagraph (E) of paragraph (6).
(B) This paragraph shall become inoperative on January 1, 2031.
(8) “Lower density” includes any conditions that have the same effect or impact on the ability of the project to provide housing.
(9) Until January 1, 2030, “objective” means involving no personal or subjective judgment by a public official and being uniformly verifiable by reference to an external and uniform benchmark or criterion available and knowable by both the development applicant or proponent and the public official.
(10) Notwithstanding any other law, until January 1, 2030, “determined to be complete” means that the applicant has submitted a complete application pursuant to Section 65943.
(i) If any city, county, or city and county denies approval or imposes conditions, including design changes, lower density, or a reduction of the percentage of a lot that may be occupied by a building or structure under the applicable planning and zoning in force at the time the housing development project’s application is complete, that have a substantial adverse effect on the viability or affordability of a housing development for very low, low-, or moderate-income households, and the denial of the development or the imposition of conditions on the development is the subject of a court action which challenges the denial or the imposition of conditions, then the burden of proof shall be on the local legislative body to show that its decision is consistent with the findings as described in subdivision (d), and that the findings are supported by a preponderance of the evidence in the record, and with the requirements of subdivision (o).
(j) (1) When a proposed housing development project complies with applicable, objective general plan, zoning, and subdivision standards and criteria, including design review standards, in effect at the time that the application was deemed complete, but the local agency proposes to disapprove the project or to impose a condition that the project be developed at a lower density, the local agency shall base its decision regarding the proposed housing development project upon written findings supported by a preponderance of the evidence on the record that both of the following conditions exist:
(A) The housing development project would have a specific, adverse impact upon the public health or safety unless the project is disapproved or approved upon the condition that the project be developed at a lower density. As used in this paragraph, a “specific, adverse impact” means a significant, quantifiable, direct, and unavoidable impact, based on objective, identified written public health or safety standards, policies, or conditions as they existed on the date the application was deemed complete.
(B) There is no feasible method to satisfactorily mitigate or avoid the adverse impact identified pursuant to paragraph (1), other than the disapproval of the housing development project or the approval of the project upon the condition that it be developed at a lower density.
(2) (A) If the local agency considers a proposed housing development project to be inconsistent, not in compliance, or not in conformity with an applicable plan, program, policy, ordinance, standard, requirement, or other similar provision as specified in this subdivision, it shall provide the applicant with written documentation identifying the provision or provisions, and an explanation of the reason or reasons it considers the housing development to be inconsistent, not in compliance, or not in conformity as follows:
(i) Within 30 days of the date that the application for the housing development project is determined to be complete, if the housing development project contains 150 or fewer housing units.
(ii) Within 60 days of the date that the application for the housing development project is determined to be complete, if the housing development project contains more than 150 units.
(B) If the local agency fails to provide the required documentation pursuant to subparagraph (A), the housing development project shall be deemed consistent, compliant, and in conformity with the applicable plan, program, policy, ordinance, standard, requirement, or other similar provision.
(3) For purposes of this section, the receipt of a density bonus, incentive, concession, waiver, or reduction of development standards pursuant to Section 65915 shall not constitute a valid basis on which to find a proposed housing development project is inconsistent, not in compliance, or not in conformity, with an applicable plan, program, policy, ordinance, standard, requirement, or other similar provision specified in this subdivision.
(4) For purposes of this section, a proposed housing development project is not inconsistent with the applicable zoning standards and criteria, and shall not require a rezoning, if the housing development project is consistent with the objective general plan standards and criteria but the zoning for the project site is inconsistent with the general plan. If the local agency has complied with paragraph (2), the local agency may require the proposed housing development project to comply with the objective standards and criteria of the zoning which is consistent with the general plan, however, the standards and criteria shall be applied to facilitate and accommodate development at the density allowed on the site by the general plan and proposed by the proposed housing development project.
(k) (1) (A) (i) The applicant, a person who would be eligible to apply for residency in the housing development project or emergency shelter, or a housing organization may bring an action to enforce this section. If, in any action brought to enforce this section, a court finds that any of the following are met, the court shall issue an order pursuant to clause (ii):
(I) The local agency, in violation of subdivision (d), disapproved a housing development project or conditioned its approval in a manner rendering it infeasible for the development of an emergency shelter, or housing for very low, low-, or moderate-income households, including farmworker housing, without making the findings required by this section or without making findings supported by a preponderance of the evidence.
(II) The local agency, in violation of subdivision (j), disapproved a housing development project complying with applicable, objective general plan and zoning standards and criteria, or imposed a condition that the project be developed at a lower density, without making the findings required by this section or without making findings supported by a preponderance of the evidence.
(III) (ia) Subject to sub-subclause (ib), the local agency, in violation of subdivision (o), required or attempted to require a housing development project to comply with an ordinance, policy, or standard not adopted and in effect when a preliminary application was submitted.
(ib) This subclause shall become inoperative on January 1, 2030.
(ii) If the court finds that one of the conditions in clause (i) is met, the court shall issue an order or judgment compelling compliance with this section within 60 days, including, but not limited to, an order that the local agency take action on the housing development project or emergency shelter. The court may issue an order or judgment directing the local agency to approve the housing development project or emergency shelter if the court finds that the local agency acted in bad faith when it disapproved or conditionally approved the housing development or emergency shelter in violation of this section. The court shall retain jurisdiction to ensure that its order or judgment is carried out and shall award reasonable attorney’s fees and costs of suit to the plaintiff or petitioner, provided however, that the court shall not award attorney’s fees in either of the following instances:
(I) The court finds, under extraordinary circumstances, that awarding fees would not further the purposes of this section.
(II) (ia) In a case concerning a disapproval within the meaning of subparagraph (D) or (E) of paragraph (6) of subdivision (h), the court finds that the local agency acted in good faith and had reasonable cause to disapprove the housing development project due to the existence of a controlling question of law about the application of the California Environmental Quality Act (Division 13 (commencing with Section 21000) of the Public Resources Code) or implementing guidelines as to which there was a substantial ground for difference of opinion at the time of the disapproval.
(ib) This subclause shall become inoperative on January 1, 2031.
(B) Upon a determination that the local agency has failed to comply with the order or judgment compelling compliance with this section within 60 days issued pursuant to subparagraph (A), the court shall impose fines on a local agency that has violated this section and require the local agency to deposit any fine levied pursuant to this subdivision into a local housing trust fund. The local agency may elect to instead deposit the fine into the Building Homes and Jobs Trust Fund. The fine shall be in a minimum amount of ten thousand dollars ($10,000) per housing unit in the housing development project on the date the application was deemed complete pursuant to Section 65943. In determining the amount of fine to impose, the court shall consider the local agency’s progress in attaining its target allocation of the regional housing need pursuant to Section 65584 and any prior violations of this section. Fines shall not be paid out of funds already dedicated to affordable housing, including, but not limited to, Low and Moderate Income Housing Asset Funds, funds dedicated to housing for very low, low-, and moderate-income households, and federal HOME Investment Partnerships Program and Community Development Block Grant Program funds. The local agency shall commit and expend the money in the local housing trust fund within five years for the sole purpose of financing newly constructed housing units affordable to extremely low, very low, or low-income households. After five years, if the funds have not been expended, the money shall revert to the state and be deposited in the Building Homes and Jobs Trust Fund for the sole purpose of financing newly constructed housing units affordable to extremely low, very low, or low-income households.
(C) If the court determines that its order or judgment has not been carried out within 60 days, the court may issue further orders as provided by law to ensure that the purposes and policies of this section are fulfilled, including, but not limited to, an order to vacate the decision of the local agency and to approve the housing development project, in which case the application for the housing development project, as proposed by the applicant at the time the local agency took the initial action determined to be in violation of this section, along with any standard conditions determined by the court to be generally imposed by the local agency on similar projects, shall be deemed to be approved unless the applicant consents to a different decision or action by the local agency.
(2) For purposes of this subdivision, “housing organization” means a trade or industry group whose local members are primarily engaged in the construction or management of housing units or a nonprofit organization whose mission includes providing or advocating for increased access to housing for low-income households and have filed written or oral comments with the local agency prior to action on the housing development project. A housing organization may only file an action pursuant to this section to challenge the disapproval of a housing development by a local agency. A housing organization shall be entitled to reasonable attorney’s fees and costs if it is the prevailing party in an action to enforce this section.
(l) If the court finds that the local agency (1) acted in bad faith when it disapproved or conditionally approved the housing development or emergency shelter in violation of this section and (2) failed to carry out the court’s order or judgment within 60 days as described in subdivision (k), the court, in addition to any other remedies provided by this section, shall multiply the fine determined pursuant to subparagraph (B) of paragraph (1) of subdivision (k) by a factor of five. For purposes of this section, “bad faith” includes, but is not limited to, an action that is frivolous or otherwise entirely without merit.
(m) (1) Any action brought to enforce the provisions of this section shall be brought pursuant to Section 1094.5 of the Code of Civil Procedure, and the local agency shall prepare and certify the record of proceedings in accordance with subdivision (c) of Section 1094.6 of the Code of Civil Procedure no later than 30 days after the petition is served, provided that the cost of preparation of the record shall be borne by the local agency, unless the petitioner elects to prepare the record as provided in subdivision (n) of this section. A petition to enforce the provisions of this section shall be filed and served no later than 90 days from the later of (1) the effective date of a decision of the local agency imposing conditions on, disapproving, or any other final action on a housing development project or (2) the expiration of the time periods specified in subparagraph (B) of paragraph (5) of subdivision (h). Upon entry of the trial court’s order, a party may, in order to obtain appellate review of the order, file a petition within 20 days after service upon it of a written notice of the entry of the order, or within such further time not exceeding an additional 20 days as the trial court may for good cause allow, or may appeal the judgment or order of the trial court under Section 904.1 of the Code of Civil Procedure. If the local agency appeals the judgment of the trial court, the local agency shall post a bond, in an amount to be determined by the court, to the benefit of the plaintiff if the plaintiff is the project applicant.
(2) (A) A disapproval within the meaning of subparagraph (D) of paragraph (6) of subdivision (h) shall be final for purposes of this subdivision, if the local agency did not make a lawful determination within the time period set forth in subclause (V) of clause (i) of that subparagraph after the applicant’s timely written notice.
(B) This paragraph shall become inoperative on January 1, 2031.
(3) (A) A disapproval within the meaning of subparagraph (E) of paragraph (6) of subdivision (h) shall be final for purposes of this subdivision, if the local agency did not make a lawful determination within 90 days of the applicant’s timely written notice.
(B) This paragraph shall become inoperative on January 1, 2031.
(n) In any action, the record of the proceedings before the local agency shall be filed as expeditiously as possible and, notwithstanding Section 1094.6 of the Code of Civil Procedure or subdivision (m) of this section, all or part of the record may be prepared (1) by the petitioner with the petition or petitioner’s points and authorities, (2) by the respondent with respondent’s points and authorities, (3) after payment of costs by the petitioner, or (4) as otherwise directed by the court. If the expense of preparing the record has been borne by the petitioner and the petitioner is the prevailing party, the expense shall be taxable as costs.
(o) (1) Subject to paragraphs (2), (6), and (7), and subdivision (d) of Section 65941.1, a housing development project shall be subject only to the ordinances, policies, and standards adopted and in effect when a preliminary application including all of the information required by subdivision (a) of Section 65941.1 was submitted.
(2) Paragraph (1) shall not prohibit a housing development project from being subject to ordinances, policies, and standards adopted after the preliminary application was submitted pursuant to Section 65941.1 in the following circumstances:
(A) In the case of a fee, charge, or other monetary exaction, to an increase resulting from an automatic annual adjustment based on an independently published cost index that is referenced in the ordinance or resolution establishing the fee or other monetary exaction.
(B) A preponderance of the evidence in the record establishes that subjecting the housing development project to an ordinance, policy, or standard beyond those in effect when a preliminary application was submitted is necessary to mitigate or avoid a specific, adverse impact upon the public health or safety, as defined in subparagraph (A) of paragraph (1) of subdivision (j), and there is no feasible alternative method to satisfactorily mitigate or avoid the adverse impact.
(C) Subjecting the housing development project to an ordinance, policy, standard, or any other measure, beyond those in effect when a preliminary application was submitted is necessary to avoid or substantially lessen an impact of the project under the California Environmental Quality Act (Division 13 (commencing with Section 21000) of the Public Resources Code).
(D) The housing development project has not commenced construction within two and one-half years, or three and one-half years for an affordable housing project, following the date that the project received final approval. For purposes of this subparagraph:
(i) “Affordable housing project” means a housing development that satisfies both of the following requirements:
(I) Units within the development are subject to a recorded affordability restriction for at least 55 years for rental housing and 45 years for owner-occupied housing, or the first purchaser of each unit participates in an equity sharing agreement as described in subparagraph (C) of paragraph (2) of subdivision (c) of Section 65915.
(II) All of the units within the development, excluding managers’ units, are dedicated to lower income households, as defined by Section 50079.5 of the Health and Safety Code.
(ii) “Final approval” means that the housing development project has received all necessary approvals to be eligible to apply for, and obtain, a building permit or permits and either of the following is met:
(I) The expiration of all applicable appeal periods, petition periods, reconsideration periods, or statute of limitations for challenging that final approval without an appeal, petition, request for reconsideration, or legal challenge having been filed.
(II) If a challenge is filed, that challenge is fully resolved or settled in favor of the housing development project.
(E) The housing development project is revised following submittal of a preliminary application pursuant to Section 65941.1 such that the number of residential units or square footage of construction changes by 20 percent or more, exclusive of any increase resulting from the receipt of a density bonus, incentive, concession, waiver, or similar provision, including any other locally authorized program that offers additional density or other development bonuses when affordable housing is provided. For purposes of this subdivision, “square footage of construction” means the building area, as defined by the California Building Standards Code (Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations).
(3) This subdivision does not prevent a local agency from subjecting the additional units or square footage of construction that result from project revisions occurring after a preliminary application is submitted pursuant to Section 65941.1 to the ordinances, policies, and standards adopted and in effect when the preliminary application was submitted.
(4) For purposes of this subdivision, “ordinances, policies, and standards” includes general plan, community plan, specific plan, zoning, design review standards and criteria, subdivision standards and criteria, and any other rules, regulations, requirements, and policies of a local agency, as defined in Section 66000, including those relating to development impact fees, capacity or connection fees or charges, permit or processing fees, and other exactions.
(5) This subdivision shall not be construed in a manner that would lessen the restrictions imposed on a local agency, or lessen the protections afforded to a housing development project, that are established by any other law, including any other part of this section.
(6) This subdivision shall not restrict the authority of a public agency or local agency to require mitigation measures to lessen the impacts of a housing development project under the California Environmental Quality Act (Division 13 (commencing with Section 21000) of the Public Resources Code).
(7) With respect to completed residential units for which the project approval process is complete and a certificate of occupancy has been issued, nothing in this subdivision shall limit the application of later enacted ordinances, policies, and standards that regulate the use and occupancy of those residential units, such as ordinances relating to rental housing inspection, rent stabilization, restrictions on short-term renting, and business licensing requirements for owners of rental housing.
(8) (A) This subdivision shall apply to a housing development project that submits a preliminary application pursuant to Section 65941.1 before January 1, 2030.
(B) This subdivision shall become inoperative on January 1, 2034.
(p) (1) Upon any motion for an award of attorney’s fees pursuant to Section 1021.5 of the Code of Civil Procedure, in a case challenging a local agency’s approval of a housing development project, a court, in weighing whether a significant benefit has been conferred on the general public or a large class of persons and whether the necessity of private enforcement makes the award appropriate, shall give due weight to the degree to which the local agency’s approval furthers policies of this section, including, but not limited to, subdivisions (a), (b), and (c), the suitability of the site for a housing development, and the reasonableness of the decision of the local agency. It is the intent of the Legislature that attorney’s fees and costs shall rarely, if ever, be awarded if a local agency, acting in good faith, approved a housing development project that satisfies conditions established in subclauses (I), (II), and (III) of clause (i) of subparagraph (D) of paragraph (6) of subdivision (h) or clauses (i), (ii), and (iii) of subparagraph (E) of paragraph (6) of subdivision (h).
(2) This subdivision shall become inoperative on January 1, 2031.
(q) This section shall be known, and may be cited, as the Housing Accountability Act.
(r) The provisions of this section are severable. If any provision of this section or its application is held invalid, that invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application.

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